Just type “kid” or even “#MumTok” into social media apps like TikTok to find endless posts from parents sharing videos and photos of their kids.
This fashion of exposing children on social networks has a name: sharenting, a mix between sharing and being a parent. But the French deputies want to put a limit on it. The National Assembly is debating a bill against sharenting.
Children’s right to privacy
One of the clauses seeks to make parents responsible for the right to privacy of their children who cannot consent to their images being uploaded to the Internet.
In the most extreme cases, a family judge could even withdraw one of the parents’ right to share images of their child if they consider it excessive or harmful.
It is difficult to delete what is published
It is important to remember that once content is shared online, it can be very difficult to delete it later.
According to various studies, an average child shares his photo on the Internet 1,300 times before the age of 13, even before he can legally create his own profile on Facebook or Instagram.
This bill is a pioneer in the world and has been well received by child psychologists and experts in social networks.
There is a risk that the images are used on the web for harmful purposes
Anja Stevic, a postdoctoral researcher in communication at the University of Vienna, believes that: “Parents need to be aware of the potential risks that can occur if other people use their children’s photos or videos. And, of course, the risks are They refer above all to ethics or the theft of images for some kind of really pernicious purpose on the Internet”.
Bruno Studer, the French politician behind the bill, points out that 50% of the photos innocently shared on social networks end up in child sexual abuse forums.
Is this true? Well, the estimate comes from an investigation by the Office of the Commissioner for Child Protection in Australia dating from 2015.
This study is from 8 years ago but according to the French association Cofrade: “Europol and Interpol already warned in 2020 of the proliferation of online pedophilic criminal exchanges and the prevalence of self-produced content by young people themselves or people around them “.
Share images of children only with family or friends
So, knowing all these risks, is it still safe to share pictures of your child online?
“I think there is a safe way to do it, explains researcher Anja Stevic. When the settings are set to private posts, sharing with family, sharing with friends… I have seen parents only share images of their children, but with their backs turned , without really showing the face or the full body of the child or multiple children together. I think the problem is when the photos are too public and when this is really accessible to the whole world and of course to online abusers.”
Although this bill will not prevent child sexual abuse websites from collecting content posted on the internet, French MPs want to remind parents to respect their children’s digital privacy.